February 09, 2008

True-blue Agile team

Yesterday was Iron Maiden's show. <scream> Maiden </scream> And I was there *grin*. Aside stating the obvious that it was an awesomely great show, they put me to think: why some bands, or groups of people more broadly, achieve success while the majority doesn't?

What’s the recipe? Is it talent? Is it the hard work? Is it never giving up? All of the motivational aspects are probably there, but I'd say that the common ground is that, most invariably, great teams didn’t start off great. They learned how to be great together. Team learning is key to a team’s success. Individuals have their unique capabilities and may even be the best in their fields, but unless they learn how to play together nothing really happens.

A true-blue Agile team-player knows that the team comes before the individual. As Mike Cohn says: “…the team must precede the roles”. “I’m in project XZY as a developer.” is very different than “I’m a developer assigned to project XZY”.

Another import aspect is that the sense of accomplishment has to be shared. If one person tries to take credit for the success or play the blame game when things go wrong, then that person isn’t a team-player.

As lastly non team-players must leave. Those who don’t want to learn how to be a team should go away. Keeping around people who cannot orchestrate their actions and thoughts will take toll on the whole team. But don't feel bad about it there will always be enough space for those who like to work in solitude not sharing their sufferings or findings.

OK, so it’s all about creating a synchronized learning team, but how do we achieve that? There are many lines of thought on learning organizations, IMO Peter Senge is a great reference, but is it enough to create a first class Agile team? Are Agile teams learning teams? And finally, can we apply Agile techniques to help teams become Agile? What do you think?

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